The British government asked the European Union (EU) on Wednesday July 21 for a moratorium on the application of post-Brexit customs provisions in Northern Ireland, the time to renegotiate in depth these measures which are the source of strong tensions in the country. British province.
To avoid the return of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the Northern Irish protocol bitterly negotiated within the framework of the Brexit creates, in fact, a customs border between the British province, which still benefits from the single European market, and the island of Great Britain. This disrupts the supply of the territory and sows anger within the Unionist community, attached to remaining within the United Kingdom.
After threatening to unilaterally suspend the treaty by invoking its Article 16, London, through Secretary of State for European Affairs David Frost, warned on Wednesday that the current situation on “Justified”, but conceded that it was not ” the good moment “. On the other hand, he asked for a renegotiation to arrive at “A new balance”.
“We simply cannot continue like this”, he insisted in the House of Lords, presenting the British demands. “These proposals will require a significant change to the Northern Ireland protocol”, that is why “We think that we must agree quickly on a moratorium”.
According to the document sent to the EU on Wednesday, this status quo would include the extension of the grace periods in force for certain measures as well as the freezing of legal actions brought by the EU.
This solution would allow “Deal with the problems as a whole”, rather than asking for several extensions of grace periods, Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis told MPs.
Ultimately, the British government asks that British goods intended for the province and not for the European market can access it. ” almost “ without customs controls. He also wants his standards, and not just those of the EU, to be accepted there, so that goods can circulate unhindered.
The EU has always rejected such measures, seeing them as a danger for the integrity of its market, due to the lack of a physical border and control between Northern Ireland and Ireland to the south. The objective of the protocol is precisely to avoid such a border, which could compromise the peace.
Effective since 1er January, it maintains for that the British province in the single market and the European customs union for the goods, by providing for customs controls on the goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain, separated by the sea.
Unionists consider themselves betrayed and campaign for the abandonment of the protocol. Violent riots left dozens injured in April. The doors of the “walls of peace” separating Catholic and Protestant districts have been set ablaze, recalling the years of the Troubles (some 3,500 dead until the 1998 agreement).
Ireland lends to “creative solutions”
To avoid escalating matters, London and Brussels recently reached an interim deal settling the smoldering “sausage war”, allowing Britain to continue for another three months, until September 30, to ship. chilled meat to the British province.
But this temporary solution does not solve the basic problem. Supermarket chain Marks & Spencer warned on Wednesday that it could not, as is, supply the province with all the products it usually supplies at Christmas.
On the front line, Ireland said it was ready to “Creative solutions”, but noted that the UK had “Decided itself” to apply these rules to leave the European Union.
Joe Biden, who claims his Irish origins, has also expressed his concern, he says he is following the case closely. The US President and his Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, “Are both determined to make the Good Friday deal stand”, noted on Wednesday on the BBC the special envoy of the United States for the climate, John Kerry.